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This I Believe

Posted in Editorials on October 20th, 2015

Last Sunday, my UU Congregation had a service called “This I Believe” based on the popular NPR series, which Google tells me was actually started by Edward R. Murrow. I was invited to participate and share what being a Unitarian Universalist means to me. Here’s what I said:

People sometimes ask me how Unitarian Universalism is a religion at all. There are no dieties we are required to pray to. And what I say is that it’s a religion because we believe things about how the world should be that past a certain point we cannot prove to be true on a chalkboard, the way one could solve a math equation.

For me, Unitarian Universalism is a moral framework that is both challenging and rewarding. Most faiths have things that they require of members. But being a UU is difficult because we must be the ones who calibrate our consciences to right and wrong and check ourselves against them. Without the specter of eternal hell fire looming over our heads, some see us as a soft and easy denomination. When trying to explain our denomination, many of us have been asked, “Oh, so you can just believe whatever you want?” But as any of us who have contemplated these issues as UUs, this is not the case. Like a college student with newly found freedom might eat junk food every day for every meal, some people who leave traditional religion (and some who are still members of it) fall into narcissism, nihilism and apathy. Unitarian Universalism pushes us away from those things. I’m not saying that we can’t be a bit navel gazey at times, but we are also encouraged to look outwards. We care deeply about and find meaning in so many things and we turn those cares into actions. People in our trademark bright yellow Standing On The Side Of Love shirts can be found doing work for causes that fight poverty and bigotry and protect the environment. And this is the challenge of Unitarian Universalism, to both live our personal lives by our morals and values, and to guide our actions to change the things about the world which are unjust.

I believe that we each have a moral imperative to do good works and to care for each other. I try to make this belief the basis of my actions, but it’s not always easy. Being lazy or judgmental are strong temptations for me, and easy bad habits to fall into, even though I know that if I do, I will only harm myself and others. Unitarian Universalism helps me live out my ideals by making room for many different types of people with a variety of beliefs. I share my denomination with people who may think differently than me on some things, but what I love about Unitarian Universalism is that we share the same values. Our Seven Principles call us to act with honor and to seek justice. And when we can agree on that – and we only need to pay attention to the world around us to see that there are so many who do not, when we can agree to act with honor and seek justice, everything else will fall into place.

Image credit: UUA Chalice by Scott Abbotts

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